b.2 October 1911 d.3 June 1983
MRCS LRCP(1936) MA MB BChir Cantab(1937) MRCS(1940) FRCP(1968) FRACP(1973)
Denis Keall was associated with the Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, for a quarter of a century and he was both a witness to, and a participant in, many of the remarkable changes which took place in the hospital during that time. Tensions are inevitable when a variety of academic departments are grafted on to an administrative structure traditionally run by honorary consultants. With the establishment of the Western Australia Medical School in 1956, Keall found himself in the chair, mediating between the arguments of the left and the right in the policy-making advisory committees. By temperament he was conservative, and cautious when faced with new ideas and problems, but his probity and dedication were apparent to all. He quickly gained the respect of both sides, and the relative harmony between visiting staff and full time staff at the hospital in the late 1950s and 60s was clear proof of his influence as a wise moderator. In later years he displayed the same qualities when chairman of the Medical Board of Western Australia.
Keall was one of a handful of consultants who could truly be called general physicians. Like most general physicians he had his particular interests, notably in chest disease, and earlier in his career he had held an appointment at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth. As a teacher he was admired by his students; as a physician he was as much, or more concerned with the emotional responses of his patients to physical illness as he was with the process of technical diagnosis. He was dedicated to his profession and his hospital, undemonstrative, and with the stoicism to accept with dignity whatever fate had in store for him.
Although born in Perth, a member of a distinguished legal family, he received his medical education at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. His father was Harry Capel Fitzgerald Keall, a solicitor, and his mother, Elinor Louisa, was the daughter of John Henry Cooper, a bank manager. Educated at Hale School and the University of Western Australia, he came to England and took his MA MB BChir at the University of Cambridge in 1937, pursuing his clinical studies at St Thomas’s. He took his MRCP shortly after graduating and served with distinction in the RAMC throughout the second world war. He returned to Perth in 1946, was appointed to the Royal Perth Hospital as physician, and practised in amicable partnership with Gordon Hislop. He married Patricia Badham (née Read) in 1940. There were two sons of the marriage, which was a very happy one.The last years of Keall’s life were saddened by his wife’s protracted illness. She died in 1980.
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
[Med. J. Aust., 1983, 2, 152]
(Volume VII, page 312)
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